My parents grew up poor (eight people living in a one room apartment type of poor). My father was a bus boy all through high school and college. My mother worked at the family convenience store after school. My father graduated college but my mother didn’t. He was the first generation in his family to graduate from college. He became a software engineer back before the tech boom hit. She stayed home for a few years before eventually landing a position as a secretary at a headhunting firm.
When I started thinking about careers, my parents’ refrain to me was that I could do anything I wanted, as long as I found a way to support myself financially.
What I wanted to do was write. But I found out quickly that writers made a very unsteady living. It was then that I started reading personal finance books. I decided that if I couldn’t do what I loved and make a living, I would be retired, because retired people could do whatever they wanted to do. I wanted to write, so I would need to retire first.
My Path Forward
- I graduated in three years so I could save a year’s worth of tuition and start the money-making part of my life sooner.
- Between the tuition saved and what I ultimately earned working for an extra year, that one decision saved me $150k, which could grow to over $800k in 20 years if invested at market rates.
- A single, atypical decision like that could fund someone’s entire retirement. One single decision! This blog is about revealing and stacking decisions just like this one.
- I ended up taking a job at an investment firm after graduating college. The starting pay was about $60k, with the promise that for those who didn’t flame out and actually made it to the end of the year, you could get a bonus that was almost the same amount, putting you at just over $100k.
- I snowballed my wealth by honing different money management skills: 40% of my net worth came from investing and 60% came from savings.
Finally, I bought my freedom at age 28 and have been enjoying the retired life for more than a year and a half.
What I Learned
Applied consistently, a Money Habit that creates steady, incremental improvement in your financial life trumps everything else. It’s about regularly exposing yourself to ideas like the one above that hadn’t occurred to you before, and implementing them to steadily upgrade the financial engine you have working for you. It created $2.25 million of wealth for me by the time I was 28, and it can help you achieve extreme, early wealth, too.
A Better Game Plan
If you haven’t been seeing the acceleration in your financial life that you hoped for, you are probably reading from the wrong playbook. Stop spending your strength unwisely. An effective money plan involves building a system of automation and habits that does robotic work for you, leaving you free to be the human being that you are. A good money plan will:
- Address psychological distortions that tempt us to spend wastefully rather than ignore them
- Automate stuff so it doesn’t drain our limited energy
- Create fail-safes that will absorb and correct for our inevitable human mistakes
This blog aims to build that kind of playbook.
How To Get The Most From This Site
- Check out the new techniques described each week. Implement the ones on offer that make sense for your life.
- Ask questions and share your own wisdom in the comments. Everyone makes better choices when they’re not thinking in a vacuum.
- Automate everything you can. For example, you can get the new tools and frameworks on offer automatically by subscribing for new updates:
If you do this – engage regularly with new ideas every week and make regular, steady improvements – I guarantee you will have huge results.
Start Tracking What You Care About – Your Net Worth And Expenses
I strongly believe that you improve only what you regularly measure. Find a good way to be able to see your net worth and your expenses in real-time. This will reinforce the efforts you are making to improve as well as allow you to diagnose where your problem areas are. My favorite solution is a service called Personal Capital, and it’s free. They offer paid advisor/wealth management services which is how they monetize, but the core product is absolutely free. If you want to read more about how I use the service and what it looks like from the user angle, as well as some thoughts on alternative solutions, check out my walk-through here.
Ready to get started making real change in your financial life? Below are some of my most popular posts to get the ball rolling.
Most Popular Posts
- The Two Metrics You Must Track To Do Well Financially– I walk through what numbers I track in my life and the (free) tools I use to do it.
- How Much Can You Actually Make Blogging? – My favorite side hustle. Case studies of how much real bloggers are actually making, how long they’ve been in business, and how they make their money.
- What Percent Are You? – Find out what percentile you rank in income.
- Teardown: How Much Do You Need To Retire? – Part of the Teardown series. My definitive post on how to calculate how much you need to retire. It talks through the research backing the assumptions I recommend for your calculation and walks you through three scenarios that will help you triangulate to your Goal Number.
- How Overblown Details Are Fleecing You of Cash – One of my absolutely favorite posts. This explains almost 100% of my regretted purchases.
- ABP: The Secret To Not Wanting Fancy Things – Picked up by Lifehacker and Rockstar Finance. The one technique that will kill your desire for fancy things and make you money in the bargain.
- Netting 30% Pay Increases and High-Paying Jobs – Concrete ideas to net yourself the highest pay raises and the best jobs.
- Teardown: The Only Two Ways To Grow Your Money – A high level way to approach all your investing choices.
- Everything You Wanted To Know About 401ks – From how to read a prospectus to what criteria to use to choose a mutual fund.